Isolation and loneliness
University is a big life change, and it can take time to make friends and settle in to this new environment.
Despite being surrounded by other students, it is normal to feel lonely, especially at the start of university when your new friendships are not as deep as perhaps your friendships from home or school.
Building new friendships takes time and effort – there is no shortcut to good quality friendships. Whilst it can be daunting and even exhausting to keep putting yourself out there, it is so important to make an effort to get to know other students. We do not thrive when we are lonely – we weren't designed to be alone.
If it is taking you a while to meet like-minded people, don’t worry and do persevere. It can help to think about joining clubs or societies where you will meet people with interests similar to your own. Connecting with people outside of Imperial, for example through volunteering or faith groups, can also be hugely rewarding and helpful for feeling rooted in and part of the wider community.
Consider whether your use of technology helps or hinders your friendships. Do you use your phone as an excuse not to talk to the person next to you? Do you spend more time virtually connecting with people elsewhere than you do with fellow students in London? This TED talk explores how we can feel connected, but actually be alone, and helps us think about the kinds of connection we want to have.
Further information and support
If you would like to talk with someone, there are many people here to support you:
- Your hall warden
- One of Imperial’s student counsellors
- One of the chaplaincy team
- The Centre for Academic English provides classes focused on everyday English for different social contexts to enhance your communication skills.
- The Advice Centre is a free, impartial and confidential service provided by Imperial College Union which can help students struggling to settle in.
- The International Student Support Team provides support and assistance for all Imperial students from outside the UK. They can help put you in touch with College support networks.
- Social anxiety – useful advice if you are finding socialising distressing.
- Personal relationships
- Students’ Union – ICU supports over 300 Clubs, Societies & Projects with more than 8,000 members. You can also sign up for the Mums and Dads scheme, where incoming first year students are matched with returning students based on their department and interests.
- Sport Imperial's fun and engaging Impetus program allows students to enjoy a wide range of sports on a daily basis across campus. Free coaching helps you enjoy learning a new sport, and the focus is all about fun, making new friends and getting active.
- Why we all need to practice emotional first aid – a TEDx talk by Guy Winch.